With the deadline fast approaching to renew a pilot program to keep speed cameras operating on New York City streets, a Brooklyn lawmaker who supports the measure is seeking to bring attention to another roadway safety issue.
Assemblymember Robert Carroll is urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign legislation he sponsored that was passed by the state legislature to crack down on drivers who become incapacitated behind the wheel and cause serious crashes.
Under Carroll’s bill, the state would require the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to examine drivers involved in accidents in which the motorists suffer a loss of consciousness or awareness. The exam would be conducted with an eye toward revoking the person’s license before he or she becomes involved in a tragic accident.
“This bill will save lives and the governor should sign it into law as soon as possible. Driving is a privilege. Safe streets are a right,” Carroll said.
The community Carroll represents, Park Slope, saw a horrific tragedy earlier this year when two children, four-year-old Abigail Blumenstein and 20-month-old Joshua Lew, were struck and killed while crossing the street with their mothers at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Ninth Street.
Abigail’s mother, Ruthie Ann Miles, and Joshua’s mother, Lauren Lew, were seriously injured in the March 5 tragedy, police said. Miles, a Tony Award-winning actress, was pregnant at the time of the fatal crash. She lost her baby in May.
The driver, Dorothy Bruns, 44, of Staten Island, suffered a seizure behind the wheel of her Volvo moments before the crash, according to police, who said she then drove through a red light and struck the victims.
Bruns, who suffers from a heart condition and multiple sclerosis, was later indicted by a grand jury on charges of manslaughter and criminal negligent homicide after it was learned that she had ignored orders from her doctor to avoid driving because of her medical condition.
Carroll said he also voted for a bill to renew the pilot program for speed cameras in school zones. The five-year program was put in place in 2013 and expires on July 25.
The Assembly approved a bill to renew it. The legislation also included a provision that would allow New York City to add more speed cameras to increase the number to 290. But the State Senate did not take any action before the legislative session ended in June.
Transportation safety advocates are calling on the senate to return to Albany for an emergency vote on the bill.
If no action is taken by July 25, the 140 speed cameras currently located in school zones will be dismantled.
“Every mile per hour matters, especially in school zones,” Carroll said. “Children are the most vulnerable pedestrians. They are less likely to survive the impact of collision and more likely to cross the street impulsively. We have all seen a child chase a ball into the road or deviate from the crosswalk. Children may not appreciate the danger of a speeding car as an adult would. Moreover it is more likely that a child is unlikely to be seen by a speeding car than an adult.”